The Diurnal and Seasonal Variation of the Northern Australian Dryline

Arnup, Sarah J.; Reeder, Michael J.
August 2007
Monthly Weather Review;Aug2007, Vol. 135 Issue 8, p2995
Academic Journal
The diurnal and seasonal variations of the northern Australian dryline are examined by constructing climatologies of low-level dynamic and thermodynamic variables taken from the high-resolution Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Limited Area Prediction Scheme (LAPS) forecasts from 2000 to 2003. The development of the dryline is analyzed within the framework of the frontogenesis function applied to the mixing ratio and the airstream diagnostics of Cohen and Schultz. A case study of 12–13 October 2002 illustrating the airmass boundaries over the Australian region is also examined. Daytime surface heating produces sea-breeze circulations around the coast and a large inland heat trough that extends east–west along northern Australia. At night, air parcels accelerate toward low pressure, increasing convergence and deformation within the heat trough. This sharpens the moisture gradient across the tropical and continental airmass boundary into a dryline. This is different than the dryline of the Great Plains in the United States, which generally weakens overnight. The Australian dryline is strongest in spring just poleward of the Gulf of Carpentaria, where the moisture gradient across the heat trough is enhanced by the coast, and the axis of dilatation is closely aligned with mixing ratio isopleths. The dryline is weakest in winter, when the heat trough is weak. The LAPS 3-h forecasts are in good agreement with observations obtained from the Automatic Weather Station network. The 3-h forecasts capture the observed diurnal and seasonal cycle of the airmass boundaries. However, the sea-breeze circulation and ageostrophic flow into the surface heat trough is limited by the model resolution. The LAPS 3-h forecasts may therefore underestimate the nocturnal intensification of the dryline, especially since the inland moisture content is overestimated.


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